“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”- Nelson Mandela.
Research has shown that the concept of education is beyond the ability to read and write, but rather a paradigm shift that involves the acquisition of knowledge, information, critical thinking, empowerment, and the ability to make the world a better place.
“We fear what we don’t understand, what we fear we judge as evil, what we judge as evil, we attempt to control, and what we cannot control, we attack”- Dan Brown
Lack of access to quality information and education is a leading cause of violence and conflict in Nigeria, many at war geo-political zones in Nigeria suffer from the spread of an uncontrollable, undetectable and communicable virus called mis-information.
Mis-information, hate speech, and the spread of fake news has continued to rampage across northern Nigeria, as they record a high prevalence of violence, conflict, outbreaks of wars (interfaith, tribal, ethnic, etc), and deaths, and as such been termed as “at risk conflict zones”.
“Peace education is both an important peacebuilding strategy, and an effective way of preventing violent conflict” – Lorreta Navarro and Jasmine Nairo
To reduce the prevalence of conflict and promote peace in at-risk conflict zones in northern Nigeria, there is a need to integrate peacebuilding education, to mitigate violent conflict in these zones.
Conflict instigators and manipulators often use fake news, misinformation, perception, and facts to create conflict. Improving access to quality peacebuilding education will reduce the effects of these manipulations by providing citizens in these regions with the ability to understand conflict resolution and what to do with information that may trigger conflict.
Education leads to empowerment and promotes inclusion, bringing people together, helping them solve problems, providing psychological support to address issues, biases, and traumas that can fuel conflict by giving the audience a path forward.
Through the CIPP project, ARDA has successfully educated, sensitized, and provided access to quality information on conflict prevention mechanisms to community members through our radio drama series (Wake Daya and My neighbour, My Friend) aired across the six (6) CIPP project states.
‘’I love listening to Liberty radio and the first day, I heard the program ‘Wake Daya’’, I liked it and I started following the program and it became my favorite drama on radio. The program has impacted me a lot. Here in Sabon Gayan, Muslims and Christians are living peacefully. Even with the crisis that has been happening in Kaduna, it has never happened here in Sabon Gayan before. This program has made me understand that we can live together in peace and coexist with one another in the community. The recent topic that was discussed with some guests on fake news and hate speech, helped me to understand more about how reposting information on social media without verifying the source can cause harm to the community. Before the program, I thought information on social media is true but now I understand one needs to verify the source before sharing it. Now if not from radio or news I don’t take any information without verifying.’’- Fauziyya, Soban Gayan LGA, Kaduna State.
‘’I like to listen to “My Neighbour My Friend Radio Program every Tuesday on Grace FM in Lokoja. I have learned many things from the program. Part of it is how I can live together with other people in my community irrespective of their ethnic or religious background. From the program, I learned that dialogue is important in resolving conflict between people. Looking at what I have learned on the program, I plan to tell my friends and neighbors on the importance of living together in peace”. – Danlai, Konto-Karfe LGA, Kogi State.
The media literacy capacity-building seminar organized by ARDA, five hundred and ninety-nine (599) young people including men, women, and Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) were educated on embracing social media as a vital tool for promoting peace and facilitating sustainable peace in their communities.
” I have learnt that when identifying fake news, you have to read beyond the headlines, I have learnt that I need to do my research before posting, and commenting. i learnt that when I see any information, I should first confirm if its fake news before spread it, because fake news also trends”. – Blessing Kumve Benue state
“I learnt that fake news causes anxiety and conflict. This seminar has helped to further my knowledge on how verify fake news, gather real fact and most importantly fake news to leads to social vices, unrest and even health challenges”. – Joel Olusola Abel-Kogi state
The Women’s Critical Discussion Groups (WCDG) has deepened the engagement of women in peacebuilding by empowering and building the capacity of local women as peace advocates within their communities.
“The program has impacted knowledge in us as a group and has built our capacity on how to tackle issues with friends, relatives, neighbours, and the general public. We also have gained knowledge on the proper and moral upbringing of our children. We also learned how to contribute to the community by promoting peaceful coexistence, conflict resolution among community members, and encouraging education and skills among the women… The program has also encouraged collaboration within the group and among community members.”
Hauwa Kabir (Member, Rijiyar Lemo Women’s Critical Discussion Group Kano State)
“From this group, we have learnt so much. We have learned a lot about creating awareness, how we tackle drugs among our youth in the community, and how to address youths’ joblessness and idleness. Women in the community do call us to inform us about their interest in joining the group. We have gained acceptance as women in our community who are qualified to advise community members, and they listen to us…. The incidents of rape have reduced, and many parents are now sending their children to school unlike before.”
Wasila Gambo Member, Kofar Guga Women’s Critical Discussion Group Katsina State.
To achieve SDG 16 and promote sustainable peace in at-risk conflict zones, government, individuals, civil society, organizations, and community development associations leaders must work together to reduce all forms of violence that instigate violence, deliver justice unbiased, ensure inclusive participation at all times, leveraging on opportunities to educate one another on the need to foster peace in the communities.
“Those who are at war with others, are not at peace with themselves” – William Hazlitt.